New ‘Harry Potter’ book a reason to party

Ayla Strauss, 5, of Edinburg, models her Harry Potter glasses made from pipe cleaners during Shenandoah County Library's Harry Potter Party, held Friday evening. Rich Cooley/Daily

Anticipation has been growing for the release of a new “Harry Potter” story, and area libraries and businesses are holding celebrations this weekend to coincide with Sunday’s world-wide book release.

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One & Two,” a two-part stage play published in book form, will be released on Sunday, coinciding with the title character’s 36th birthday.

Based on an original story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, this book is the eighth in the “Harry Potter” chronology, and takes place immediately after the events of the seventh book – 19 years later as Harry turns 36 years old. The stage play is showing at the Palace Theatre, in London.

It’s been nine years since the seventh book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” was released, and fans looking to celebrate will find food, fun and festivities this weekend at area libraries, bookstores and other businesses.

Kicking off the weekend’s festivities, the Shenandoah County Library in Edinburg held its Harry Potter Party on Friday.

Merrick Wages, 10, of Edinburg, raises his hand to answer a "Harry Potter" trivia question during Shenandoah County Library's Harry Potter Party. Rich Cooley/Daily

Erica Hepner, children’s services coordinator at the Shenandoah County Library, said she was very excited to put this event together.

“We’re hosting the party as part of our summer program series called ‘Friday Family Fun,’ which is an opportunity for parents and children to come to the library and have fun together,” she said.

She said those attending could celebrate with various wizarding snacks, cakes and punch. Those who attended were also asked, but not required, to dress up at their favorite “Harry Potter” characters.

Attending witches and wizards were also able to make their own signature Harry Potter glasses and a tie based on their favorite Hogwarts house (Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff or Slytherin).

Other activities included “Harry Potter” trivia and a photo booth.

Erica Hepner, children's services coordinator at the Shenandoah County Libary, holds a frame that youngsters can hold to have their photo taken during the library's Harry Potter Party on Friday in Edinburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

The library will offer a hold list for those wishing to borrow the latest addition to the “Harry Potter” series. Call the library at 540-984-8200 or log into your library account through the library’s website at http://shenandoah.co.lib.va.us/ to place a copy on hold.

The Royal Oak Bookshop in Front Royal plans to sell copies of the new “Harry Potter” book.

Bookshop owner Kevin Seabrooke said he is expecting to have 10 copies of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.”

“We want to have them available for our customers that want to come here. We give our customers rebate cards that, when filled, can be redeemed for $15 credit,” he said. “Many people save these for when a big new book comes out.”

He added that since this book is not a novel, but the script of the play, that it might affect sales.

“On the other hand, fans may be so hungry for anything Harry that it won’t matter,” he said.

While his business is primarily a used bookstore, he orders copies of highly popular books because they are one of the few places in the area where people can buy books.

“Once upon a time the release of a new ‘Harry Potter’ book was an occasion for celebration,” he said. “We held events and there were crowds and we ordered books by the carton.”

But he said he has to compete with larger chain stores that offer these books for lower prices. In 2007 when he had just opened on U.S. Route 522, he had to return cartons of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” because eager readers were buying the books at cheaper prices at chain stores.

“While we have many loyal fans locally and throughout the mid-Atlantic region who have supported us for more than 40 years in business, we recognize the realities of this decade’s economic crisis and the changing landscape of retail. Bigger retailers are selling the new book, listed for $29.99, at $17.99 and even $14.99. We can’t compete with the chain stores that can discount new books 30, 40 or even 50 percent.”

In Winchester, Handley Library, at 100 W. Piccadilly St., will celebrate Harry’s birthday at noon Saturday with the showing of the movie, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” followed by crafts, snacks and other activities from 2 to 3 p.m. The party is open for anyone 6 and older.

The Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum, at 19 W. Cork St. in Winchester, will hold its Harry Potter Day celebration from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Attendees are invited for mischievous, fun activities, and those who come dressed in Potter-esque costume will receive $1 off museum admission. Copies of the new book will be available for pre-order, courtesy of Winchester Book Gallery. For more information, visit Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/z5z2bo5, or call the museum at 540-722-2020.

Festivities are also taking place in other parts of the region.

Saturday in Staunton, the community will come together to put on the Queen City Potter Party from noon to midnight, transforming downtown businesses into the village of Hogsmeade.

Activities include sword making, wizard dueling, ghost tours, spell book making, crystal ball readings and potion making and many other wizarding activities and treats.

For a full listing of scheduled events, visit Staunton’s website at http://tiny.cc/i28bdy.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com